Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:
The Columbia History of Chinese Literature is a comprehensive yet portable guide to China's vast literary traditions. Stretching from earliest times to the present, the text features original contributions by leading specialists working in all genres and periods. Chapters cover poetry, prose, fiction, and drama, and consider such contextual subjects as popular culture, the impact of religion, the role of women, and China's relationship with non-Sinitic languages and peoples. Opening with a major section on the linguistic and intellectual foundations of Chinese literature, the anthology traces the development of forms and movements over time, along with critical trends, and pays particular attention to the premodern canon.
Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
This ambitious history explores a wide range of Chinese literature, from the classics to humor to folk tales to oral traditions, and moves from ancient times to the end of the 20th century. The 54 chapters also include discussions of Chinese literature by women and minorities and assess its reception in Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. A lengthy chapter explains the language and script, emphasizing the diversity and the changes over time. All the discussions deal with the social, political, and philosophical backgrounds that either inhabit or inhibit the literature. Early texts, for example, are usually grounded in Confucian and Taoist thought, while more recent writings deal with, or at least suggest, political ideologies. This being a history and not an anthology, no literature is included, except for an occasional short quotation. And, of course, the many transliterated titles, authors' names, and dates make for difficult reading, even though everything is translated and Chinese characters are omitted. Mair (Chinese language and literature, Univ. of Pennsylvania) has overseen a host of excellent scholars writing on a vast subject. Highly recommended. Kitty Chen Dean, Nassau Coll., Garden City, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
This visionary encyclopedia opens with thematic chapters, state of the art in scholarship but accessible to undergraduates, on the Chinese language(s) and script, classics, philosophy, religion, myth, the supernatural, humor, proverbs, and women in literature. Mair's piece on Chinese linguistics is a marvel of clarity. Macropedic 200-page subhistories follow on poetry, prose, fiction, drama, criticism, and popular/marginal phenomena, subdivided into chapters by and for specialists; the narrative is not wholly linear. This volume joins The Indiana Companion to Traditional Chinese Literature, ed. by William Nienhauser et al. (CH, Jul'86), now supplemented with volume 2 (CH, Apr'99), which also has genre and theme histories (15-25 pages each--technical but easier to grasp) followed by micropedic essays alphabetized typically by Chinese terms; the present volume privileges English equivalents, aiding nonspecialists. Written by top (sometimes the same) scholars, both resources emphasize taxonomies, periods, and genetic relations of subgenres and texts instead of literary criticism. Inviting a continuous read and tackling the controversial transition to modern literature, the History complements but does not supersede the Companion--which features full bibliographies (absent in the book under review), biographies, book encapsulations, and special topics like martial-arts novels. For large academic college and general libraries; all levels. J. C. Kinkley St. John's University (NY)